Page last updated at 13:47 GMT, Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Minister laments 'national scandal' of care home abuse

The abuse of disabled people in care homes such as Winterbourne View is a "national scandal", health minister Norman Lamb has said.

Last week six people were jailed for their role in abuse at the private hospital exposed by the BBC's Panorama programme.

The programme has since reported that at least 19 of the 51 former Winterbourne View patients have been issued with "safeguarding alerts" since they were moved to other care homes, according to NHS figures.

Summoned to the Commons on 30 October 2012 to answer an urgent question tabled by shadow health minister Liz Kendall on the subject, Mr Lamb told MPs: "What has been exposed by Panorama is utterly intolerable and has to come to an end.

"I am absolutely determined when I make the final response for the government by the end of November that it will be robust and clear and that everyone understands what has to happen.

"Years and years of public money being spent on putting people into inappropriate settings, often putting them at risk of abuse - this is a national scandal and it has to end."

Shadow minister Liz Kendall said: "There remain serious concerns about whether the government has taken all necessary steps to ensure the former patients of Winterbourne View are now receiving safe and effective care.

"Last night's Panorama programme revealed 19 patients have been subject to safeguarding alerts since leaving Winterbourne View.

"Not all of these alerts mean someone has been harmed but Panorama says one was an incident of assault and another has resulted in a criminal investigation," she explained.

Ms Kendall called on ministers to ensure that all former Winterbourne View residents were "safe from risk of abuse".

Mr Lamb replied: "I have been working since my appointment to ensure we set the right policy to protect very vulnerable individuals."

He said there was "always the risk of rogue individuals who behave very badly - they must be dealt with through the criminal law as has been seen with the Winterbourne View staff".

The minister added: "But I have also made the point that owners at the corporate level of these organisations must be held to account for things that go on in their homes, if there has been neglect."

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